My thoughts on the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade
This decision was not a surprise to me. There have been changes in health care over the 30+ years I have been practicing that laid the groundwork for this decision.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade essentially protected the right of a woman to make the private decision of how to proceed with a pregnancy. In 1989 (not that much later), the decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services began the process of allowing states to add restrictions to the ability of a woman to decide to terminate a pregnancy.
I have worked at Planned Parenthood. I drove past protesters showing big signs with torn up fetuses. I had a remote garage door opener so I could drive into protected parking and not be harmed (as several doctors who performed abortions were murdered). My mom was scared every time I had a shift.
I understand the sentiments of people who do not like abortion, so I do not plan to try to change anyone’s mind or heart about the fact of abortion itself.
A wanted baby is a wonderful thing. A woman who wants to get pregnant and cannot is a terrible thing. I have seen both these scenarios many times, and very many that are in between these opposites. I have delivered babies to mothers who did not want the baby and therefore did not get any prenatal care. One of these days, maybe I will make a list of all the many different scenarios I have seen that were other than the happy birth of a wanted child.
A fetus in a womb
This is my position: a fetus in a womb is not equivalent to a woman who is walking the Earth already. It’s as simple as that. A heartbeat does not make a person, which we know in cases of brain damaged individuals who have to be removed from life support (I have also been witness to this horrible situation).
I do not think that any of the members of Congress or in state legislatures would force their own daughter to carry a pregnancy to term that resulted from rape. Am I too optimistic about these individuals? It’s easier to endorse a draconian policy when it is going to be enforced on someone else. Regardless, banning abortion in cases of rape and incest is unethical, unkind, and wrong.
Women will die
If these legislators (and Supreme Court justices) who oppose abortion were committed to providing funding for birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies, for programs to support childcare, and for early childhood education and nutrition programs, then that would at least make sense. Unfortunately, this is not the case in our country.
There is much more to say on this subject, and I will write more about it in the future.
What I can say about this most recent decision is this: women will die.
The U.S. already has the worst ranking in the world among high-income nations for maternal mortality (deaths during pregnancy, birth and post-partum). In fact, U.S. maternal mortality has already been on the rise. If more women have babies, more women will die. Desperate women who – for many reasons – feel they cannot go through with a pregnancy, will commit suicide or die seeking an illegal abortion.
Women dying from illegal abortions is what led up to Roe v. Wade, and sadly I think it will take going all the way to women dying again – whether from illegal abortions, suicide, or maternal mortality – for the pendulum to swing back.